How come Imi decide there will be only 10 students?
After he get out from the army, he decide that he want to change, to modify, to increase what he was teach in the army (the self-defense), and to create Israeli martial art, starting to build krav maga as a martial art. By this he opened two academies. One in Tel Aviv and one in Netanya and he choose 5 people to be his student in Tel Aviv and 5 in Netanya. I was really lucky to be the first student of the academy in Tel Aviv. I don’t think he has some model how to choose us. There was some natural selection because some people came and leave. Exactly like today, many people camo to the krav maga but not all of them could stay in the krav maga. Although that Imi always said that the krav maga is for everybody, in the same time he make me write in the first book we did, in Hebrew in Israel, that “krav maga is only for people with intelligence above the average”.
How do you see the other places that they teach krav maga?
If you search the internet in this second there are 2 million sites about krav maga. Each one of them is a personal student of Imi, the official successor of Imi, very special student of Imi, Imi gave him black belt, etc. What happened to the krav maga is actually what happened to the karate. About 3 to 5 years after Funakoshi died, instead of heaving one type of karate, in the world today there are maybe 2 or 3 million “styles”. None of them have any relation, any connection with the original and real creation of Imi, his way or his krav maga. People did not teach to punch, people did not teach to kick, people did not teach blimot (falling), did not teach gilgulim (roll overs). Nobody today know the 38 punches of krav maga or the 78 kicks of the krav maga or the philosophy. Most of them don’t use kimono and those of them using kimono is camouflage kimono, colored kimono, whatever. If you search the internet you will see Imi, always with white kimono. And if you check again you will never find school in the internet. You will see academies, clubs, organization, federation, association. You will never found a place that call itself school. We are the only one in the world that have the title “school” and all the time since August/September 1977 we are officially school. In that time in Israel we fight against the city and we succeed to get officially license and the name is Bukan School of krav maga. Again, you can make your own research and see that nobody teach the complete krav maga of Imi. The big question is how you know krav maga is krav maga or not. It is like the same question, how you know this is karate Shotokan by the way of Funakoshi or this is Shotokan by some monkey, Jewish monkey that he said he create the kata of the karate by the Israeli alphabet. And people pay for this… It is goes like this: how do we know that a martial art is a martial art? There are 5 rules. 1. You must use your hand, 2.you must use your leg, 3.you must do blimot, 4.you must do gilgulim, 5.you must do exactly what you have to do when you stay on your feet and you must do the same when you lie on your back. We are the only one in the world today that response on this 5 rules after the original ju jitsu.
How did the krav maga spread from Israel to the rest of the world?
Israel is a very difficult place, is very difficult to do business in Israel. It is even more difficult to do international business from Israel. So we moved to Brazil and very slowly and by hard work we start to spread in the world.
How much what Imi teach in the army and krav maga have in common?
Imi was chief instructor of self-defense in the Israeli army. In the army he based almost all the part of the self-defense inside the krav maga. When he create the krav maga he said he create the Israeli martial art for self-defense. He said that between yellow and blue belt we learn self-defense and brown and black belt is krav maga. In the army he actually teach self-defense. That it was the time he exams all the movements and all the exercises because he had many soldiers, thousands of them, to see if this is working or not and what is better and what is not. The point is that after all this years in the army, he starts everything from the beginning, because in the army he never teach krav maga. Furthermore when he was in the army he never use the word krav maga and actually he create the name krav maga in August 1970/1971, four years after he finished the army. Before this, the two words krav maga, nobody knows in Israel. So, what Imi teach in the army and the krav maga has nothing in common.
How was Imi as instructor, how was to train with him?
Very fun, many jokes. It is very difficult for me to answer the question because…first of all, almost 14 – 15 years after Imi died, I cannot remember him without thinking of the word fun. I am very serious, he make jokes all the time even more and worse than me. Although he want us to be perfect on the tatami and he make us do every movement exactly as he want because in his point of view, of life, we must be perfectionist as he was. For him, teaching us the smallest movement, six days, six hours per day, was normal. If he was not satisfied with the movement, he did not stop. But in the same time he teach it in a very fun way. The man was a genius and I don’t have enough words in any language to describe…Imi is still with me, all the time. I don’t believe in all this nonsense heaven and hell. I really believe if somebody die but his memory is with you, he is very alive.
What were Imi’s values?
Good food, good beer, good sex. Not necessarily in this order. He teach me to eat, he teach me to drink and in a way he teach me…what’s the name of the movie with Al Pacino being a blind colonel? -“Scent of a woman”- more or less like in the movie. This was his values. He believes in the truth. I don’t remember even one time that he did not said the truth. He was always said “if I tell the truth in the face of the people, nobody will ever believe me”. I think he was very honest man and always if he said he will come in a certain time on a certain place, he was there. I was with him 27 years, every day, he never late.
How do you met Imi, start training with him?
I was 14 and I saw in the newspaper an article about karate. Actually it was about flying kicks in karate. In that time I was the champion of my school in high jumping. I like this very much and when I saw the article I start to look for academy. In my city, Rehovot there was nothing. So I go to Tel Aviv, I start to look. You have to understand it was not the Israel of today, you google it and find out. I have to walk and watch, walk and watch…
After a few month I found one academy of karate, I saw the teacher there and I said to myself “this guy is a pedophile and I don’t want nobody to visit my ass”. I continue and I came to Imi academy and I saw an old man with normal clothes and barefoot on the tatami. I was asking if he teach the flying kicks and he said to me “of course, tomorrow I will teach you, come”. It took me maybe 7 or 8 years to learn how to do this, but from the first time I meet him, I fall in love with him.